Many of you have seen the Clinton administration and congress patting themselves on the back so hard for having a "budget surplus" they looked as though they were going to hurt themselves. Well, as usual, we are once again being lied to by the inhabitants of the District of Criminals. The short and simple fact is that there is no surplus. There is a bunch of shifting of revenue around to make it look as though there is, but the fact is that on September 30, 1998 the National Debt stood at $5,526,193,008,897.62. Just one year previous, on September 30, 1997, the Debt stood at $5,413,146,011,397.34. These are Office of Management and Budget (OMB) figures.
Hmmm... Lets see...
$5,413,146,011,397.34 - $5,526,193,008,897.62 ======================= - $113,042,997,500.28
That certainly appears to be a negative number to me, which means there is a deficit from this fiscal year. If the extra money being stolen from you in the name of Social Security were not being used to hide the full extent of federal overspending, the numbers would look even worse.
When the pundits in the media accept the lies spoken by politicians uncritically, they become active participants in the lie. This is especially true when it is so easy to get the real numbers from the OMB. All you need is some kind of internet connection, which the media has in abundance. The Treasury has even created a separate domain for matters concerning the public debt. It can be reached at http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/opd/opd.htm.
Why is this lie that there is a budget surplus being spread so enthusiastically? I'm not entirely sure. However, it is reasonable to look at the rest of the story that goes along with the lie to try to discern the motivations. Most of the stories I've seen that repeat the lie also go into what the republicans and democrats want to do with the money that is supposedly in "surplus". It is reported by the media (remember, they are already lying about the fundamental facts of the story), that the republicans want to use the money for two purposes. First, they want to "give" the american people a tax cut. Presented in these terms, one might almost be grateful the republicans want to bequeath us with this gift. However, if you think about it just a little bit more, you realize that what is really happening is that they are proposing to not steal quite as bit from youj next year as they did this year. The reality of the situation is that of a mugger who, when robbing you of all your money, your watch, credit cards, and car keys hands you back a dollar and expects you to feel good about him "giving" you some of your own money back! the furtrher reality of the situation is that he then wants you to thank him for being so kind as to give you the dollar back!
Now, remember that there is really no surplus. Therefore, looking at the situation with the mugger above, the senerio needs to be changed just a little bit to better reflect reality. Instead of just demanding all that you have on you, the mugger will make you go to a bank and take out a loan, then hand the loan over to him, after which, he will, in turn, give you back one of your dollars. Doesn't sound like such a good deal any more does it?
The other thing the republicans claim to want to do with this non-existant surplus is to "fix social security". Well, how does one go about fixing a ponzi scheme? The only way I know of to delay it's inevitable collapse is to pump more money into it to destribute to those currently collecting it. This only makes it last a little longer than it would otherwise, and has no real effect upon it's basic instability and logical imposibility. Demographic projections show that in a few years, there will be only 2 people working to pay for each person collecting social security. If you want those who depend upon the slave labor of the workers to live to not live in abject poverty, you have to steal money away from the slaves rates far in excess of today's approximately 7.5% of income (plus another 7.5% if you count their employer's "contribution"). This is just simple math. Let's say you have to productive workers A and B. They each make $50,000 a year. Take 7.5 percent out of each of their paychecks (plus another 7.5% that is matched by their employer), and you get $15,000. That's not a whole lot of money to live on these days is it? We certainly can't have that retiree surviving on just $15K per year, so we need to just take a bit more out of those fellows that gave us the $15K to begin with. How much is a "livable" wage? I don't know. If you say it's about $30K, then the math is easy. You take 15% of the workers paycheck (plus another 15% from the employer) to make up the difference. Well, now you've effectively cut the wages of the poor bastards supporting the retiree to $35,000. I suppose some would say that is fair since the retiree only makes $30K. Of course, we're not done yet with those working slobs. They still owe federal, state, county, city and sales taxes. Let's be generous and say that of the $35K they each have left, combined taxes only takes 30% of that. Each of these fellows now has $22,750.
Do you see how the math works? What I've described is the simple and inevitable result of demographics. We know how many people are going to be retiring over the next 20-30 years. We also know how many people will be left to support those who have retired. We also know some other things that I haven't even mentioned yet which brings us back to the origional issue here. Anyone who has made a substantial purchase in their life, say a house or car, should have at least a rudimentary understanding of the magic of compounding interest. Compounding interest is truely a wonderful thing for banks and other lenders because it means that they can lend someone $100K for a house, yet be paid back $250K or more over a 30 year mortgage. There are a number of programs all over the internet that will help you to calculate such things, and they can be truely eye opening. The reason I bring this up is this: As I've mentioned before, as of September 30th of 1998, the U.S. National Debt will stand at $5,526,193,008,897.62. This is a lot of debt! It also takes a lot of money to service such a debt! Every single month, we pay, on average, $31,176,850,339. Thirty-one Billion dollars a month is a lot of money even for the U.S. government. That works out to about $350 billion dollars paid in interest this year alone! That $350 Billion can't be used to build one road, finance one court, pay one stinking politician's salary or anything else. This debt is a burden our children and grandchildren will curse us for. Of course, when it reaches its inevitable absurdity of consuming everything the working people in the country can produce, they may just develop backbones and say "To hell with it. We're not going to be slaves any more!"
They may say that, but probably won't. They'll probably be beaten into submission, or brainwashed by lying commentators and newscasters on the television into thinking that it is right and just for them to be enslaved by their parents and grandparent's stupidity and greed.
ZPRC PLUGS: You can find current information about the National Debt and Interest payments on the Debt at my National Debt Page. I am also now keeping Monthly Public Debt Summaries at my site.